by

January 17, 2022

 

Marijuana in Professional Sports

Marijuana for a long time has been the best friend of professional athletes. Endless amounts come out after their career and admit to smoking after a game to relieve pain and stress, or even being high during games. Even with the high usage among players it has continued to be a banned substance in most if not all major leagues. Josh Gordon was a up and coming receiver in the NFL, In 2013 he posted 1,600+ yards and nine touchdowns in just 14 games. Then it was revealed he failed a drug test for marijuana and was drunk and high every game. While still being the best receiver in the league that very same season. Now josh gordon has been suspended so many times it could be permanent.

   Ricky Williams is the perfect example of this, he is one of the most egregious examples of how this policy was wrong. Unlike Josh Gordon, Ricky only smoked weed and had no off the field issues. He was a heisman trophy winner for the University of Miami in 1998, He started smoking his heisman season. He said “ I really used it as an aid to recovery,” he said. “After busting my ass at practice, I’d come home and smoke a little bit, and I felt good. It helped me get up the next day, ready to go back to work.” But then he was busted and the NFL sent him to rehab with three counselors and made him lose the love of the game as a hall of fame potential running back. But now that the drug is legal and more acceptable these stigmas and punishments are corroding along with the stigma in everyday life.

  But just yesterday, The NBA was the final professional sports league to stop testing for marijuana, a trend set by the MLB and shortly followed by the NFL. I completely agree with these decisions. The physical trauma these athletes endure, day-in, day out is inhuman, especially football. In a sport where your main goal is take someone out every play, many times with your head, you are going to need some type of medicine to help yourself, so why not a universal, safe, naturally occurring drug instead of opiods?  

   Then there are the athletes that don’t get caught during their time in sports. There are countless examples of athletes like Harrison Barnes, Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, etc, etc most of your favorite athletes smoke weed to relax. Calvin Johnson, or megatron, a first ballot hall of famer, who set tons of records in the NFL, revealed in an interview after he retired “ I can get Vicodin, I can get Oxy[contin]. It was too available. I used Percocet and stuff like that. And I did not like the way that made me feel. I had my preferred choice of medicine. Cannabis.” The Opioid epidemic is a whole other problem that kills millions of people every year. Cannabis has never killed anyone just by getting high. If these athletes are choosing a safer substance to keep themselves going to perform for the fans then they should be left to do their own thing and people should just mind their own business.

Sources:

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/ex-lions-star-calvin-johnson-reveals-that-he-used-to-break-one-particular-nfl-rule-after-every-game/

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/29114415/future-marijuana-drug-policy-nfl-pro-sports

https://www.nbcsports.com/boston/patriots/player-profile-look-josh-gordons-career-stats

https://www.dailyprincetonian.com/article/2019/10/calvin-johnson-marijuana-in-sports

https://www.theringer.com/2016/7/25/16041898/josh-gordon-nfl-conditional-reinstatement-9473e2ae39d5


Lack of Education Inside the Juvenile Justice System Creates an Endless Cycle

In some schools, counties, or even states, there is a direct school-to-prison pipeline. Students who, more times than not, are already struggling in school are sent into detention facilities, or detained at home, where they receive little or no quality education. Sierra Mannie investigated this idea, but with a more specific lense. She wrote an article for The Hechinger Report titled, ‘Chronically Absent: Is Quality Education Possible in Juvenile Detention in Mississippi?’ She started with one young man’s story, 19-year-old Jelin “Jay” McChristian. McChristian was held back in school multiple times and never finished 9th grade. By the time he was 17, he was in his second year of 9th grade. He was detained by the state and taken out of school. By the time he was released, it was summer and he would be starting 9th grade again, this being his third time.

Mannie wrote, “A 2006 Justice Policy Institute report, “The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities,” says 43 percent of incarcerated youth nationally receiving remedial education services in detention did not go back to school once they got out, and another 16 percent went back to school but dropped out after five months.” These are more than just statistics, they show how these detention facilities impact students’ likelihood to graduate, or to continue their education at all.

In a letter from the Departments of Justice and Education, then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and then-Attorney General Eric Holder it was said that “For youth who are confined in juvenile-justice facilities, providing high-quality correctional education that is comparable to offerings in traditional public schools is one of the most powerful-and cost-effective levers we have to ensure that youth are successful once released and are able to avoid future contact with the justice system,” Selina Merrell, an education consultant for Mississippi detention facilities says that she has seen success, though, and it comes from one particular program: positive behaviour interventions and supports system, also known as PBIS.

On average it costs $153,300 a year to confine a single juvenile in the state of Mississippi, most of whom are rearrested within the next year. With PBIS, however, the likelihood of rearrest goes down significantly. McChristian never had to opportunity to be part of the PBIS program due to the detention centre he was in not using it. Some have said that this is due to the cost of the programme, however, in the long term, spending the money to educate kids, saves the state from spending money to redetain the students.

McChsritian dropped out after his release and is currently working independently to get his GED. He intends to go to Mississippi State to become a therapist.

juvenile hall photo


China’s Big Secret

For a while now, I’ve always noticed that countries with totalitarian Governments like the Soviet Union and North Korea, have kept secrets.  We’ve all heard stories that in North Korea they do things like block out western culture, and starve their citizens. But something that very few people know about, are the well kept secrets of China.  What is their secret? Well, China has almost 30 concentration camps, where they keep millions of muslims in efforts to “re-educate them”.  Many people are calling this the largest mass incarceration of people in the world today, and the territories where these camps are in, span the size of Mexico.  

These internment camps are said to construct the detainees into “Prototypical Chinese Citizens.”  This may sound relatively harmless, but in fact it’s quite the contrary.  Some have said that “It echoes one of the worst human rights violations in history,” with an abundance of constant surveillance and brutal torture, it truly is sickening.  In the camps, the Islamic prisoners are subject to forcibly eat pork, drink alcohol, and the women are forced to marry Chinese men, without any consent. (Somethings that go against the Islamic faith)  Those who do not comply, are subject to whippings, solitary confinement, and are even starved.  

These prisoners are going to be subject to PTSD and psychological damage for years to come, and it’s up to us to stop these disgusting acts, and help these people live better, more fulfilling lives with the freedom of religion, and not be tortured or beaten due to what they believe in. 


We need better evidence.

Wrongful convictions happen more than you may think and there are many ways that cause it. Someone who has been wrongfully convicted means that they were arrested and punished for a crime they did not commit. We have recently been able to DNA test people to see prove if they are innocent. The Innocence Project says, “Wrongful convictions have revealed disturbing fissures and trends in our criminal justice system”. There are many more cases on wrongful convictions because we haven’t always been able to DNA test people. With the cases reported with DNA exonerations, there are many mistakes between factors of race and class.

Our criminal justice system is needing repairs because there have been common causes collected based on wrongful conviction cases. A major cause is eyewitness misidentification. Our minds don’t remember exactly what we see or hear so eyewitnesses are not strong pieces of evidence but we still use them in cases. Forensic analysts will sometimes testify without proper scientific reasoning for their findings. They make inadequate assessments about their findings and share them. In some cases, innocent defendants say false confessions. Michigan Law says, “Confessing will be more beneficial to them than continuing to maintain their innocence”. Another cause with weak evidence can be done by the government when they misconduct and convict a defendant with no clear proof. Often, there are paid snitches, outside the jury, that testify in return for their testimony. There is also the chance of having a bad lawyer who fails to investigate, call witnesses, or even to prepare for trial which causes the conviction of innocent people. There are many ways someone could be convicted wrongfully and we need to get a grip on what we are doing and continue to find ways to help our system.

A major wrongful conviction case was the Central Park Five. In 1989, five teenage boys were wrongfully convicted of assaulting a woman in New York’s Central Park. In 2002, the Supreme Court decided to vacate the conventions of the case but found that the DNA from the evidence matched a man who wasn’t one of the five arrested thirteen years ago. All five of the guys were exonerated but this was a devastating case because they were all around the age fifteen when they were arrested and had now lost nearly half their lives in prison. The wrongful convictions our criminal justice system cause is a very big deal. Being innocent and thrown into jail for something you didn’t do wastes a person’s life. The mistakes we make come from a lack of evidence and from not being prepared to fight for an innocent person. We need to step up our game and focus on stopping the wrongful conviction of people.


The Negative Effects of the Death Penalty

There is a lot of statistical evidence as to why abolishing the death penalty can be good for society. The first big reason is the cost of pre trial, trial, sentencing and the execution. A study done by Seattle University found that “across the country, seeking the death penalty imposes an average of approximately $700,000 more in case-level costs than not seeking death.” The other big argument is that the death penalty doesn’t deter crime.  The New York Times did a study that found “ten of the twelve states without the death penalty have homicide rates below the national average, whereas half of the states with the death penalty have homicide rates above.”

The death penalty is permanent and the legal system is imperfect. This is a problem because innocent people have been wrongly put to death. According to the ACLU “Since 1973, over 156 people have been released from death rows in 26 states because of innocence.” This means that there have been innocent people put to death that were not able to be exonerated. Another big argument against capital punishment is that it violates the 8th amendment because it can be considered cruel and unusual. Such as in the case with Kenneth Williams where “he did not lose consciousness after the first drug and struggled to breath before he started convulsing.” This is not the first case of this happening and is not guaranteed to be the last. 

With all of this evidence it is clear that the death penalty should not be legal and it should be abolished worldwide. My biggest argument for this is because there have been innocent people that have been convicted and put to death. The only time you can and should kill someone without thinking is if they are an active shooter and it is in the context of actively saving lives. I also believe that if someone is capable enough to kill another human being than they are not scared of death at that point. Just like people who want to die by cop suicide they would rather be killed then spend life in prison and the facts in these articles show capital punishment is not a deterrent.


Felon Disenfranchisement and Recidivism

In recent years, sentencing reform has received a lot of attention. We’ve rightly come to the realization that we can’t just lock people up and throw away the key. More than 95% of people in prison are eventually released back into society. Once a person has served their sentence, how should they be treated in society? Another important question is how do we keep those people from ending up back in prison? These two questions are closely related. 

Felon disenfranchisement refers to the loss of rights by those convicted of serious crimes. 48 states practice some form of felon disenfranchisement. Most often it involves the loss of the right to vote. Of the 6 million people who have lost this right, more than 75% aren’t currently in prison. 1 in 3 adults have lost their voting rights. Disenfranchisement is more than just the loss of voting rights. In some states, felons are denied social services, such as public housing and food stamps. 

More than 75% of those released from prison will be re-arrested within 5 years. Researchers have found that states with more disenfranchisement have higher rates of recidivism. Guy Padraic Hamilton-Smith, in a paper published in the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, stated that “individuals who are released in states that permanently disenfranchise are roughly nineteen percent more likely to be rearrested than those released in states that restore the franchise”. Restoring rights isn’t just a matter of fairness; it’s good public policy in that it reduces recidivism. This is why abandoning disenfranchisement has been gaining support on both sides of the aisle. As assistant professor of political science Victoria Shineman wrote, “Although felon disenfranchisement has traditionally been a partisan issue, bipartisan alliances have recently found common ground”. 

Hamilton, Guy Padriac, and Matt Vogel. “The Violence of Voicelessness: The Impact of Felony Disenfranchisement on Recidivism .” BerkeleyLaw, 2012, https://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1252&context=blrlj

Shineman, Victoria. “Restoring Rights, Restoring Trust: Evidence That Reversing Felon Disenfranchisement Penalties Increases Both Trust and Cooperation with Government.” Daniel Rubenson, 2017, https://rubenson.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/shineman-tpbw18.pdf

“Time Outlasting Crimes? Is Felony Disenfranchisement Fair?” Home, https://www.billtrack50.com/blog/social-issues/civil-rights/time-outlasting-crimes-is-felony-disenfranchisement-fair/


How The Green Mile Exposes What’s Wrong With the Death Penalty in America

The Green Mile by Stephen King is a book about death, both in life and on death row in America. The book follows Paul Edgecomb who is the main Guard at the Cold Mountain Penitentiary on E-Block, or death row. While at his post he had carried over eighty executions, all but one of them he felt had been justified. The one where he didn’t was John Coffey; convicted, but not guilty of the rape and murder of two little girls. This raises the question, how can our justice system allow things like this to happen, and is any legal killing of another human ethical? Since 1973 “more than one hundred and sixty five innocent people have been acquitted from death row” (Innocence). One hundred and sixty five innocent people were going to be killed by our government. The Green Mile is not a book a book about injustice in America, at least not at face value, but it does a good job of showing it. It humanizes all the Prisoners on death row and makes the reader think that even with their heinous crimes they’re still human, they still have thoughts, dreams, and emotions like me. It makes the reader think who are we to decide who lives or dies.

Instilled in every American is the value of justice. From a young age we have this motto drilled into our heads, “with freedom and justice for all”, and with this you would think we have an impressive justice system to go along with this. This is simply not the case. Take for example the case of Clifford Williams Jr. who in 1976 was convicted of “entering a woman’s house with a spare key entrusted to him and then shooting her dead from the foot of her bed” (Kristoff) and sentenced to death. The thing was that forensics found that the bullet had been fired from outside and Mr. Williams had an aibi for where he was at the time of the murder. After spending forty two years in prison he was freed in 2018 to a completely different America. Some people aren’t lucky enough to get back into the world though. Just like The Green Mile depicts with John Coffey’s execution, hundreds of innocent Americans are killed by a broken system. With the Innocence Projects peer reviewed study claiming that about four percent of death row inmates are or were innocent, we are reminded how insignificant someone’s life can become in America’s justice system. Even one innocent person killed is too many.

The arguments for the death penalty may sound good at first; it’s cheaper to kill someone then to keep them in prison for life, it deters crime, and that criminals who commit these crimes desereve to die anyway. To discredit the first argument on average it cost’s seven hundred thousand dollars more to perform an execution on a person then to imprison them for life (Appendix IB1). The reason for this is that it takes a lot longer to perform a capital crime hearing and all appeals are automatic meaning cases can easily last decades. Towards the second point studies have been inconclusive at best. Some claiming that states that without the death penalty see less capital crimes, while others seeing a slight correlation between the death penalty and less crime. One thing that you can take from these studies though, is that the process of handing someone a death sentence is so random that it’s almost comical. Finally for the last argument consider Kenneth Reams who was sentenced to death at barely eighteen for being present during a robbery that went wrong. Kenneth was poor growing up with an absent mom and dad, and many mental health problems. He has spent nearly thirty years awaiting a new trial and by all accounts he has rehabilitated, should this grown man be killed for what his terrible situation forced him to do as a child? It’s more expensive, it doesn’t deter crime, and people can rehabilitate, the death penalty is outdated.

If you’re interested in the human side of the death penalty in America you should read The Green Mile. It does a good job of showing the significance the death penalty can have on all those involved. It inspired me to look into America’s justice system, where I found out the flaws with how we treat the death penalty. How four percent of all death row inmates are or were innocent (innocence). The book made me look at how it felt to Paul Edgecomb having to murder an innocent man, and how it made him look back on his past executions. The Green Mile made me question the American value of justice and how it only seems to be applied to a select group. 

Work Cited

Oklahoma, 2017.

“Innocence.” Death Penalty Information Center, 23 Apr. 2019, https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/policy-issues/innocence.

“Interview with a Death Row Inmate.” USA | Al Jazeera, https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/2012/05/201259135628279639.html.

Kristof, Nicholas. “When We Kill.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 June 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/14/opinion/sunday/death-penalty.html.

McInnes, Karen. States and Capital Punishment, http://www.ncsl.org/research/civil-and-criminal-justice/death-penalty.aspx.


Deportation

I have chosen to write about deportation because it has been an ongoing issue for a long time and it’s currently worst nowadays with our current president. It is an important issue for me because it may affect the families of people i know  and is affecting tons of families every day. It is a big issue that separates children from their parents and ends up destroying families by also not getting a chance to stay here in the U.S. for a better life. This issue impacts people because it separates immigrants from their families when they get deported and may ruin their lives. It is problematic because it is also a racial thing because immigration targets mostly hispanic people because they are seen as the people with no papers and illegal. When someone ends up getting deported they are forced to leave behind loved ones. Also in many cases the person that gets deported have to return to dangerous environments they were trying to get away from and most cases it results in rape, kidnapping, torture, or them getting murdered.It is necessary to take action because each year too many people get deported back to their country they were trying to get away from to seek a better future and not be in danger.

 

Our current president is trying to build a border wall to not let immigrants come in.A solution would not be to build a wall because everything is racism towards the hispanic people and they deserve to also be in this country. They should not be getting deported for just being in this country doing nothing wrong. My blog post is to set awareness of how deportation is a serious issue and the large amount of people that get deported every year causing family separations and sending them back to a dangerous life. There is a big amount of immigrants in this country and they are all looking for a better life and they don’t deserve getting deported for no reason.  It connects to the immigration things we have learned in class and all the political things that can relate to this.


Punishing the Punisher

There are 31 states where capital punishment is legal. The most common method of execution is lethal injections. Although so many of the states are in favor of capital punishment, only about 33% of people are in favor of it. The majority, 39% of people, believe that instead of the death penalty the criminal should simply spend life in prison without parole and have to pay restitution to the victims or the family. Many professionals agree as well, and one source states that, “According to a survey of the former and present presidents of the country’s top academic criminological societies, 88% of these experts rejected the notion that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder.”
This shows that people want to punish the criminal for their actions, however this is uneffective. By putting violent people in a place surrounded by more violent people we perpetuate the cycle that is violence. We are sending in people who are already in a bad state of mind, and after being in the prison system they leave in a worse state. Most of these people are repeat offenders and are in and out of the system. In order to create long lasting change we must leave behind capital punishment and punishing the criminal and instead focus on rehabilitation.
There are many other options that not only take criminals off the street but focus on rehabilitation. There are medical approaches, such as looking at violence as a health issue that can be treated and prevented. There are also methods that involve increasing gun control and focusing on early intervention in the lives of at risk people.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/05/01/everything-you-need-to-know-about-executions-in-the-united-states/?noredirect=on
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/jun/30/24-ways-to-reduce-in-the-worlds-most-violent-cities
https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/states-and-without-death-penalty


Policing Immigration

Immigration may well be the hottest issue in the United States today. Some people want to build physical walls to keep illegal immigrants out. Others want to welcome them with open arms. However, the issue of state and local police helping or hindering ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents’ agendas has implications far beyond how many immigrants get deported.

One of these implications is whether or not someone will call 9-1-1 to report a crime. In some cities, illegal immigrants can be deported simply for calling the police. In Washington, a man who called for help was taken away from his family to be deported when the police came. Wilson Rodriguez called 9-1-1 because he saw a man trespassing on his property and looking in his car and house. The officers who arrived on the scene ran Rodriguez’s name and found an ICE warrant. The officers took him to a detention center and handed him over to ICE who refused to release him on bail. Rodriguez had no criminal record, but police officers felt the ICE warrant equated to an arrest warrant even being an illegal immigrant is not a crime but a civil violation. These stories make illegal immigrants hesitant to report crimes that they see because they could be deported if they have an outstanding ICE warrant.

In an effort to ensure all people feel safe reporting crimes, some states and counties have limited how and when the police can question immigrants in regards to their legal status and when Police can hold them for ICE without a criminal warrant. These locations are called sanctuary cities. Many people believe that in these cities immigrants are protected from deportation. This is not the case. They are actually just cities that limit cooperation with ICE to protect illegal immigrants who have never committed a crime or have only committed minor crimes. They still deport people who have committed major offenses. This measure helps to ensure that all crime is reported because illegal immigrants feel safe to call the police.

But other locations have partnered up with ICE to deputize their officers to enforce immigration laws. Pennsylvania does not have a relationship with ICE but also has no regulations regarding questioning immigrants. This has led to illegal immigrants with no criminal records being deported because they were passengers in a car that got pulled over. In one case, two men were just outside a store when they were questioned and detained because they admitted that they were illegal immigrants. This is worrisome because it gets into the issues of racial profiling and warranted stops.

While some people argue that ICE cannot handle all the illegal immigrants on their own, the answer is not to involve local and state police forces. The police are there to protect the people in their jurisdiction and they cannot do that if there are people who are afraid to call and report crimes. They also have many more important things to do then pull Hispanic people over to see if they are undocumented. Not only is this type of behavior unconstitutional, but it is also a waste of police resources. The tax-paying citizens of America are being put at risk when the police deal with immigration. Fewer resources being devoted to actual crimes and fewer people willing to come forward and help makes non-sanctuary cities more dangerous for everyone. If ICE cannot handle the number of immigrants, the government can hire more ICE agents. But there is no part of “protect and serve” that includes deporting people who have done nothing criminally wrong at the cost of not protecting nor serving the people in the community.


Guards Hurt Inmates

Author

Dear Superior Court of California-County of Alameda,

We are choosing to write to you because you are our county and what you do in your prisons affect us. As a court, you do not listen to us and itś not fair. Itś going to end now by you helping us with prison reform for starters. You guys are affecting the world and making your county look bad.

For so long in the past and currently, there has been a power struggle in prisons. Guards have so much power over these citizens and there are cases where they abuse them with rape, verbal abuse, physical, and mental abuse. According to Vice, it states, “Staff-on-inmate sexual assault victims have 33% women” (Ptacin). This is proof that there is abuse in prison and even though it appears small people are still abused and who knows if all the people who get abused feel they can report.

Giving people the idea that they have power over these people is what cause this. Based on the Stanford Prison Experiment which includes an experiment with college students taking on the role of a guard or a prison resulting in massive abuse and a crazy outcome. We feel that experiment can show people have this feeling they have to overpower on people given the chance, and it’s not fair to give guards that power.

Prisoners and people who get in trouble by the law are obviously the ones who can be harmed at any time by this. There’s this fear of going to prison sometimes because of the guards there and even though they shouldn’t break the law, they also shouldn’t fear the people there in the prisons.

There are times that when prisoners suffer abuse because of others having PTSD that can cause problems for them because they never deserve the inequity and abuse that happened to them because of a guards problem. According to, The Guardian, “Corrections officers suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder at more than double the rate of military veterans in the US…This in turn inevitably affects prisoners. While there is no hard data on guard-on-inmate assaults, interviews with current and former corrections officers revealed that COs occasionally take out the stress of the job on inmates.” (The Guardian). From this, we know that guards admittance is not checked to make sure these inmates are safe and abuse on them is the outcome. Does that sound right to you?

Rather then just an overall corrupted justice system, there are also corrupted judges. People who want to see someone in jail is obviously benefited once they’ve succeeded in caging a person (sometimes for a wrongfully accused crime). I feel there are in fact corrupted judges because, regarding killings caused by police officers that get only suspended, that has to be biased.

Institutional oppression is in these courts, prisons, and jails all the time. The governments and court systems are placing people in these places of punishments when they feel the need too.

If you decide not to help us our allies will. We’ll have prison activist with us and any other people who go against the criminal justice system. The only opponents we have are the people won’t help us, so don’t be an opponent, do what’s right.

There has been protesting (Marches and Rallies) and community organizing about prison reform. The protest was August 19, 2017 (Eventbrite) where a community organized an event to protest for Millions for Prisoners Humans Rights March. This protest was not successful because we didn’t even hear about it. But there is a solution to this because we are going to protest and do public art performance. And make people honk and spread the word out.

If you don’t start to help us yourself as a court then we will fight until you and the rest of California courts understand this problem with the prison to guard interactions. We will make protest art to display your courts as our constant oppressors. Everyone will see the corrupted system that goes on behind bars with art. We will spread our message online to gather as many people we need to help pressure all of the courts to hear our demands. We will email mayors and courts with our demands because they’re so simple why would you disregard them. We will first start with the emails, next to the gathering of us citizens, to our demands becoming higher and higher. If needed we will ignore every rule you put on us to show we’re not stopping. We won’t stop. To do this we need your promise as our county court to start to fix the injustice in those prisons. We need the people at the prisons to be able to talk without harm coming to them later on about their experiences at the prisons. We need their rights to be heightened because we still see them as citizens. Also if they report a problem we need something to know that it will be heard to the fullest. Here we’re not just talking about physical abuse, but also ay mental abuse, verbal abuse, or even taking advantage of inmates has to stop. We feel our action is strong because it will lead to a long-term change, we’ll be having engagement with policymakers, public awareness will be increased. We’re confident in our plan because it will happen no matter what.

Thank you for reading our proposal. You should really follow our movement by joining our protest, contributing to our community organizing, sharing your opinions online about what we need for this prison reform, politically getting involved, and overall helping us. Then, later on, we can help the injustice in the court system farther than just guard to inmate interactions. Follow our hashtag #They’re Still Human so we can come to a consensus.

Sincerely,

Joana

Kamyiah

Kimberly

Annotated Bibliography

Dasha Lisitsina in Oregon and New York. “’Prison Guards Can Never Be Weak’: the Hidden

PTSD Crisis in America’s Jails.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 20 May 2015, www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/20/corrections-officers-ptsd-american-prisons.

This website is trustworthy because it was published in 2015 and they are trying to educate people by interviewing others and asking them about their different opinions. It also involves information about guard to inmate interaction.

“Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March.” Eventbrite US Blog, www.eventbrite.com/e/millions-for-prisoners-human-rights-march-tickets-29364229200#.

This website is trustworthy because it is showing community organizing. It doesn’t show the date it was published but the march happened on August 19, 2017.

Ptacin, Mira. “Guards vs. Inmates: Mistreatment and Abuse in the US Prison System.” Guards vs. Inmates: Mistreatment and Abuse in the US Prison System (In Partnership with Starz from VICE Media), 2017, partners.vice.com/starz/starzpowers4/news/guards-vs-inmates-mistreatment-and-abuse-in-the-us-prison-system/.

This website is trustworthy because it shows statistics about how prisoners are being treated by the guards. This website is showing that guards interact with prisoners in a negative way,


Racial Stereotyping and Profiling

Unit 3 Project 

Well, I focused on racial stereotyping and profiling for my project. Although the issue doesn’t directly affect me, I feel very passionately about it. It is when people are judged by the color of their skin, ethnicity, social status, economic status, identity etc, or because of those aspects they are thought to have committed criminal offences. And it is an issue or problem that should no longer exist today. In today’s society, while we judge people with the quick glances we give them, their personality and what they can do shouldn’t be judged on their race, or ethnicity. When you look back at American history didn’t people come here to escape judgement? Then how come, today, people are still judged maybe not publicly, for what they look like, their race, identity, ethnicity, social status and others? I feel like this shouldn’t be the case, people of a different skin color than yourself should not be thought of as less or as a possible criminal because of their skin color, but because of their past actions. The same applies to other physical, or spiritual differences.

Before starting the research about the project I knew fairly little when it came to statistics about the issue directly. I knew what the topic was and who, for the most part, was affected by the issue, but I wanted to delve deeper into it. And what I know now, is that it’s much bigger than I thought. So many people of color are affected, and they shouldn’t be. So here’s a video about some of the statistics I learned, and how we can potentially stop this issue from existing.


Plea Bargaining: The Unspoken Issue of Our Legal System

I have always known about plea bargaining and that many US citizens, defense lawyers, and criminal rights activists disagree with it, but have never known why. This project offered me the opportunity to not only learn more about this controversial legal issue, but also better understand the other side’s perspective.

I am passionate about this issue because during this century more than ever the United States’ prison population has exploded. Through school readings and the news I have grown concerned over the innocence of many of these convicted criminals. I have become convinced that more reform must be done to improve the American justice system. Through this presentation I hoped to present an issue in criminal cases that may inspire others like me to take a stand.


How Multi Level Marketing Has Failed in the Past

This article by Stacie Bosley and Kim McKeage examines the diffusion of multilevel marketing and the risk of pyramid scheme activity.  This article closely examines the case of Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing in Montana, a trade company that was notoriously shut down after multiple state level lawsuits involving Montana, Texas, and North Dakota.  This company started out with two individuals who sat at the top of the pyramid and made millions by recruiting more and more investors below them.  Their business outline worked to where eventually, the new recruitment investments would pay for the preceding returns that were due to the investors who came before them.  This scheme continued and worked for years until almost 94% of the entire company was making less than a dollar, or in debt to the incorporation, on average every month.  This dramatic gap can be seen in the figure one diagram, where it is ironically presented as a pyramid.    This scheme boiled over promptly in a series of court cases that resulted in the complete liquidation of the company.  In the Montana v. Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing Inc (2010) court case, Montana stated, “FHTM is not a multilevel distribution company, but rather a pyramid promotional scheme because the compensation each participant in the program receives is derived primarily from obtaining the participation of other persons in the program and not the sale of goods and services.”  This was a very intriguing find because it shows how easily a business can slip into this type of scheme that can financially stunt or ruin so many individuals.  

Reading deeper into this article, it explicitly differentiates legal multilevel marketing from the pyramid scheme and how diffusion is intended to happen within these corporations.  The correct “legal” mode of diffusion works in a way that the newly recruited investors get paid their return from the net earnings of the company, rather than the investments of new recruitments.  This is a sustainable form of multilevel marketing, however, it more than always never works out that way.  Greed is usually the culprit of why companies choose to use non renewable forms to pay new investors, and it creates a never ending domino effect of everyone trying to cover themselves.  That is why multi level marketing is such a dangerous game, because it can easily turn into a legal, let alone moral nightmare.  This begs the moral question of whether these business platforms are really worth the risk involved.  Many of these markets are still thriving legally today such as NuSkin, Doterra Essential Oils,  Rodan + Fields, Scentsy, and many others.  Here is a list of the top thriving companies that fall under this category today.  Many of these markets fall under legal regulations, however their distribution platforms show that they are still extremely reminiscent of the Pyramid Scheme.  Many of these companies have had numerous issues and lawsuits with the Federal Trade Commission, yet still continue to operate today.  In the 1990’s the FTC led multiple investigations into Nu Skin enterprises for advertising false income amounts over their product distributors.  Recently in 2016, NuSkin was sued by China in a Utah State Federal Court for operating a “suspected illegal pyramid scheme” which resulted in a $45 million dollar settlement for the corporation.  Later that year, the same company was involved in bribing a Chinese official to allow them to continue operations in the country.  Granted the company’s thriving success, the morality of their work still remains utterly questionable.  Nu Skin is not the only large scale corporation that has run into trouble with legal constraints as these.  It is a constant issue for this industry which begs the question of how ethically correct it is to allow them to continue.  


Gun Control and Mental Health

After the events of the Florida Shooting, I wanted to do some research into how mental health and shootings such as these are correlated. Even the president commented on how those with mental health issues were to blame. According to statistics, there have been 18 school shootings so far this year, that’s about one each day. These shootings have become a part of society, and yet they still happen. Is mental health all that’s behind this? Or is it he lack of gun control?

It is seen that “2.9% of persons with serious mental illness alone committed violent acts in a year, compared with 0.8% of people with no mental disorders or substance abuse—a statistically significant relative risk, despite a low absolute risk of violence in people with serious mental illness. Those with co-occurring substance use disorder and serious mental illness had a higher rate of violence, 10.0%, but this still meant that a clinician would be wrong nine times of 10 with a blanket prediction that someone will commit a violent act merely because they have a combination of, for example, depression and alcohol use disorder”. So it seems that mental health does increase the chances of violent acts, but how easy is it for someone with mental health disorders to get a gun? In the state of Florida, one can get a gun in 15 minutes, as long as you are of legal age. If one can get a gun with no background checks, then how can someone who is mentally disabled be held accountable for being allowed to get guns?

The shooter in Florida is a 19-year-old man. That’s one year older than a senior in high school. There was clear evidence that the shooter was in poor mental health before the shooting, and yet, it seems like there was no help given to him. However, in Japan, where gun ownership by citizens is illegal, there are no (or very little) shootings. Why has the US not changed its policy? Is it the heavy slew of Republicans that refuse to act, or is it the Government? How can people help? What can we do as a society to get help, other than posting on facebook or social media about it?


Multi-Level Marketing and its Uncanny Resemblance to the Pyramid Scheme

In business, there exists a competitive craving to be smarter, faster, and bigger than everyone else. This urge stems from the initial experience of success that has the ability to intoxicate people. If success isn’t approached with correct moral and ethical judgement, this infatuating addiction can prove harmful to the parties involved. This is how notorious and successful businessman Bernie Madoff became involved with one of the most systematically thought out forms of stock fraud; otherwise known as the pyramid scheme. This scheme works exactly as it sounds; like a pyramid. The top investor recruits individuals who will “make money” beneath them if they promise to recruit more investors that will “make money” beneath them, and so on. This scheme works and eventually makes a never ending pyramid of investors that only make money if they recruit more and more investors below them, however the issue is that the pyramid can’t go on forever, and there will be investors sitting at the bottom of the pyramid who will fail to make any money at all while the few people sitting at the top of the pyramid will make exponentially increasing sums of money that stem from the empty promises of the bottom level investors. This practice has now been criminalized and landed Bernie Madoff the title of one of the most notorious criminals in history as well as a 150 year sentence to federal prison. This is where the concept of multi-level marketing comes in. This business concept begins with few individuals who have a product that they want to sell. They then recruit a larger group of individuals below them to sell that product. This group of individuals then recruits more sellers below them and the cycle continues on and on while the original sellers make more and more money. In short, the largest group of sellers at the bottom of the scheme end up with a closet full of products that they are unable to sell while the individuals above them make copious amounts of cash. This business scheme holds an uncanny resemblance to the investment scheme discussed earlier. The only difference is that only one of them is considered illegal in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service. So if these two business schemes are essentially the same thing with different labels, what is it that separates them in legality?

I found the information very useful in this article by the Better Business Bureau.  The hyperlink provided will take you to my hypothes.is annotation of the document.  It blatantly states the red flags of multi level marketing schemes that closely resemble the pyramid scheme, or Ponzi Scheme.  I found it intriguing how close the qualifying criteria for legal and illegal forms of this marketing seem to be.  This article sparked inquiry about how companies can find legal loopholes to disguise unethical marketing schemes as enticing financial opportunities that comply with legal business regulations.  I believe this document shows how easy it is for corporations to advertise misleading and many times, fruitless schemes to recruit individuals into their market.  The article does state that not all multi-level markets are to be considered “scams,” however many of these product distribution corporations fall into the notorious category.  

I found another article very intriguing.  This government document gives an overview of how certain corporations target young marketing and finance students as recruitment candidates for their products.  It provides numerous guidelines for these students to see if they are being recruited into legitimate market opportunities and not fraudulent organizations.  It examines the risk involved with these types of sales positions and the precautions that should be taken before considering them.   I found this very helpful in showing the main demographic that is at risk when it comes to these types of schemes.  

I am looking forward to researching more on this topic and examining what it is that makes these schemes fall on the spectrum of legality in the eyes of the IRS, and United States Corporate Law.

 


The Price of Being a Woman in Prison

In the United States of America, even the toughest criminals have basic rights protected by our country’s Constitution. The rights of prisoners include the right to humane facilities and conditions, right to be free from sexual crimes, right to be free from racial segregation, right to express condition complaints, and right to medical care and attention as needed, among others. Hearing that these rights exist may be shocking to some because it often seems as though prisoners are not able to express them and that their conditions are very clearly not supported by their rights. Far too many inmates are stripped of these rights or loopholes are found so they receive the absolute minimum. In specific, one of these rights was being violated for women prisoners.

In April 2017, the New York Times produced a story featuring 24-year-old Tara Oldfield Parker, a woman arrested for shoplifting. When arrested, she was on her period and requested a sanitary pad from the officers in her holding cell in Queens, New York. “Sure, they said. But they would need to call an ambulance to get one. After about an hour and a half, they produced a sterile gauze pad, apparently obtained from an ambulance. It was the kind of rectangular gauze used to bandage an arm, with no adhesive” (Greenberg, The New York Times). This is not an uncommon situation for incarcerated females. Although receiving menstrual supplies falls under the right to humane facilities and conditions and the right right to medical care and attention, it is constantly seen as a luxury rather than a basic right.

Prisons can make maintaining a healthy well-being and dignity a monthly struggle. In the New York prisons, women recount that pads were only accessible 70% of the time, and tampons were even harder to come by. Even then, they were only given to certain housing units and certain inmates, depending on their relationship with the officers. This affects not only health and hygiene, but also women’s self-esteem in a situation where their self-esteem cannot take another hit. They are constantly humiliated and start to despise their bodies because they are denied necessary items. Last June, New York passed the first menstrual equity law in America requiring city jails to provide free feminine hygiene products to inmates, but the supplies provided were nowhere near the needed amounts and the law made little difference.

In Arizona, they are in the midst of fighting to protect incarcerated women’s health. Currently, women are automatically given 12 thin pads a month and may possess up to 24 at a time. They also must purchase tampons and additional pads. The average menstruation occurs every 21 to 35 days for five days, and hygiene companies recommend changing pads every four to six hours to avoid infection. In accordance with these statistics and instructions, the average woman would need at least 20 pads or tampons. However, some women must use more than one pad at a time or have a longer or heavier period, which would require more supplies. The American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) clients in Arizona are forced to work 8-hour days with only a thin pad, often bleeding through their clothes and sheets without being allowed to change or bathe for days. The inmates will have to barter and beg for supplies and will only be given thin pads or even just toilet paper by the officers. Sometimes they will be simply denied.

Feminine hygiene products also come at a price for the inmates. In the Arizona prison system, a 16-count of thin pads cost $3.20. A 20-count box of tampons is $3.99. Base pay for prisoners starts at $0.15 an hour, which means a box of pads would require about 21 hours of work, and a box of tampons would require up to 27 hours.

Until women’s menstrual requirements are considered a luxury and not right, they can be taken away and used as a tool of power to humiliate inmates, and this harassment will continue in prisons, jails, and juvenile detention centers nationwide. Despite having the basic rights of prisoners to humane facilities and conditions and right to medical care and attention as needed, incarcerated women are still stripped of these human dignities given to all. Every state needs menstrual equity laws for incarcerated women.


Should the United States decriminalize Drugs?

The United States does not tolerate drugs at all, since Ronald Reagan started the war on drugs. If someone is using drugs they are not scared of the consequences from the federal government, they are just thinking of the best way to hide it from authorities. More people are being incarcerated for petty crimes that involve drugs, than any other crime combined. Almost 50% of inmates in federal prisons are in for drug offenses, and in state prisons 16% of inmates are in for drug offenses. That is about 207,000 inmates in federal prisons, and just about 1,400,000 inmates in state prisons. Putting these people in prisons is not doing anything to stop the drug issue in this country.

If the United States is to follow the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Italy in decriminalizing drugs, it would benefit us more than ever. People are being saved by special works in place that make sure no one overdoses on drugs. The country would be much safer with less violence. We would have more money to put toward much more important things, more space in prison, and no need to build new ones. The UN has partnered with many different organizations, including health groups, like the red cross and the American Public Health Association, which all have endorsed the decriminalization of  drugs. Why won’t the US government, stop looking at what will benefit them the greatest, instead of what will benefit the citizens of this nation the greatest.


There’s nothing wrong with private prisons

Seems like a good idea at first glance. Too many prisoners, no money to build prisons. Let private companies fill the gap. Let them build and run prisons for profit since these private businesses are entitled to make a profit. Nearly 10% of U.S. prisons are privatized; the federal government contracts with these corporations to house people who break the law. THE PROBLEM WITH PRIVATIZING PRISONS

There are lots of things to think about here. Private prisons have been accused of all sorts of abuse and corruption. Think about it, we are all incentivized in some way or another. If you make your money off of housing criminals then you are incentivized by having more people breaking the law and being placed in your prison. The owners of privatized prisons have no incentive to rehabilitate prisoners. It turns out imprisoning Americans in private prisons is a massive money maker for big businesses. PRIVATE PRISONS ARE BACK…

How do you think inmates are treated in private prisons? If you want to maximize your profit, you’re going to spend as little as possible on taking care of those prisoners. This situation, presents two ideals that are diametrically opposed; providing care for human beings and maximizing your profit. It’s no wonder that prisoners in private prisons are at risk for such abuse. And guess what? Private prisons don’t actually save anybody money. Private prisons companies are also influencing American politics by donating large amounts of money to political candidates who support their causes. How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about


Lock Em Up and Throw Away the Key

The “war on crime” era of American history drastically changed how we deal with crime, and incarceration. The saying “lock em up and throw away the key” became the structure of our sentencing and imprisonment of criminals. This idea has not helped our country or anyone affected by these policies, on the contrary it has ruined millions of families, countless lives, it has done unnamable damage to our economy, and our society since its conception.

Putting every man and woman who breaks a law behind bars is not a healthy way to deal with crime. The war on drugs which is the campaign that brought about this throw away the key mentality and policy brought the “population of incarcerated citizens from 218,466 in 1974 to 1,508,636 in 2014, over a 600 percent increase while the population has only grown 51% in that same time” according to Lauren Carroll of politifact.com. Most of these people are poor, predominantly African American men who were found possessing small amounts of drugs. The disparity of race that is being imprisoned is astonishing, as illustrated by prisonpolicy.org. These are not violent criminals and by taking them out of the workforce and ripping them from their families to keep them in jail and make no effort to rehabilitate these men nothing is accomplishments except for a supremely effective waste of money for the government.

Today, victims of our broken judicial system feel unfairly treated and they are not helped in any way to try and keep them out of the courts in the future. Many alternatives to incarceration have been suggested, all of them costing the government much less and having much higher rates of real rehabilitation and reshaping of model citizens. Some of these options are; restorative justice, exile, fines, transformative justice, and drug courts. These alternative forms of punishment provide benefits economically on multiple fronts, avoid the human rights and public health issues a prison involves, improve the economy by keeping household earners out of prison and in the workforce, and benefit society by changing criminals into genuinely better citizens and keeping families together supported.

The current system of judicial punishment is broken and scarred by an era of history in America covered in fear and prejudice. The way it is now helps no one and it needs to change.

 


The death penalty and when it is appropriate.

A few hundred years ago, all around the world, the penal system was absolutely. People would be sentenced to death for even the most petty of crimes and nothing would be thought of it. Public executions would be held as a form of entertainment, and average citizens could occasionally participate in the killings themselves. However, our society as a whole has reached a point where the death penalty is a very debated over problem that no group can reach a unanimous decision upon. A lot of factors go into this decision, and the process in its entirety can take months or years to complete, all the while people are having arguments over its usage. So, my question is when is the death penalty considered to be appropriate?

I found a site that discusses the pros and cons of the issue as a whole and it provided a lot of new information that I had previously not considered, such as cost or constitutionality. Though it is considered to be a cheaper alternative than that of a life sentence for a prisoner, the amount that adds up from trials and other events can actually be much more expensive:

“[A]ll of the studies conclude that the death penalty system is far more expensive than an alternative system in which the maximum sentence is life in prison.”

However, there are some crimes so vile that releasing the prisoner would never be a viable option, and having that person around other inmates could cause serious threats to their health as well. So, the only logical way to go about it would be to enact the death penalty. Though it is given in very, very special circumstances, there are usually very good reasons behind it.

I found another website that also offers some differing opinions on the topic, that brings to light even more factors that I had not considered. The first of these is the argument that it teaches the condemned person nothing. Simply killing the person will not make them learn the errors of their ways and will only enforce he ideal that there is no other way to go about life:

“But if that child grows up and murders someone for their wallet or just for fun, and they are in turn put to death, they are taught precisely nothing, because they are no longer alive to learn from it. We cannot rehabilitate a person by killing him or her.”

However, on the other side of the same topic, others argue that the death penalty is not meant to teach the person wrong from right. The people that are given the death penalty are truly the worst of the worst, and to keep them around in functioning society would only be a hindrance. People like serial killers, rapists, and pedophiles should not be given another opportunity to be released into the public where they have the potential to repeat the actions that led to their initial incarceration.


Injustices of United States’ War on Drugs.

The war on drugs, the supposed “public enemy number one”, established under the Nixon administration and intensified under Reagan has been a colossal failure. The logic behind the war on drugs was if you eliminate the drugs you eliminate drug addiction and drug related crime. This was not the case. Instead the war on drugs increased prison populations of drug offender, worsened racial imbalance in America, and increase crimes related to illegal drug production all at the cost of an estimated one trillion dollars since 1971. 

Americans make up twenty five percent of the world’s incarcerated population. Fifty percent of which are non-violent drug offenders and while african americans only makeup thirteen percent of the American population they makeup forty percent of the incarcerated population. A large contributor to the disproportional population in U.S prisons was the crack down on crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is a cheaper and easier alternative to cocaine which made it prevalent in poor inner city communities that are generally populated by minorities while cocaine was more common in richer areas outside the city. Despite their nearly identical molecular makeup the sentence for possession of one gram of crack was equal to eighteen grams of cocaine. It is policies like this that unfairly target black and hispanic populations.

Though the war on drugs did decrease American drug production however the nature of economic only helped foreign cartels. The crime related to drug production and trafficking increased and worsened when the market was moved to Mexican cartels. The amount of deaths caused by overdose has increased from 20,000 to 64,000 since the nineties. This doesn’t even account for deaths outside of the United States or drug related deaths not caused by overdose.

The War on drugs may be the worse modern social injustice enacted by the American government, that fact that it was continues even worsens its crimes. Contrary to the large amount of drug related deaths and arrests occurring in the U.S other countries have begun to learn how to address the real nature of drug abuse. Amsterdam established needle exchange locations that greatly reduced the spread of HIV and allowed addicts to seek treatment without fear of jail time. In the face of rising HIV cases Portugal decriminalized possession of LSD, heroin, marijuana, and other street drugs. The war on drugs created a huge imbalance in America that we will spend years fixing however there appears to be a silver lining occuring around the world concerning drug use.


The Juvenile Justice System: Deeply Flawed

In privileged communities across America, the phrase “kids are the future” is sung to remind children that they matter. But when we put juveniles in prison, it becomes clear that our justice system does not treat every kid, teen or young adult as important to our country’s success, growth and change. If we want ideas that will bring life to worn down towns, voices that will unite, and true equality, we must give juveniles convicted of petty crimes or misdemeanors another chance. We must put more money into the future success of each child in America than we do in punishing those who make mistakes and we must be equal, humane and just in how we punish juveniles.

According to research done by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program, in October of 2015 there were 48,043 juveniles incarcerated in residential facilities across the United States. About ⅓ of these children are in state facilities, ⅓ are in local facilities and ⅓ are in private facilities. While these numbers are large, since 1995 that rate of juvenile incarceration as of 2010 has dropped 41%, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. There is hope for us to continue this trend, but without drastic change in the mindsets and legislation surrounding juvenile incarceration, we will not be able to take a significant step forward.

One, among many problems, in the way we punish juveniles is that the justice system overcorrects. The juvenile prison population has become full of children whose records are clear of homicide and assault, but who are too severely sentenced. In 2010, only one in four incarcerated juveniles had committed a violent offense such as sexual assault, robbery, homicide or aggravated assault, says a report by the Annie E Casey Foundation. Six years later, data collected in 2016 by the Prison Policy Initiative shows that across the country, a total of 40% of all juvenile detentions are due to drug possession, violation of probations, minor offenses of public order or offenses such as trespassing. These kids are not a threat to public safety, yet the systems treatment of them does not, for the most part, differentiate by intent or surrounding circumstances. In 2015, the population of incarcerated youth for “person offenses” such as rape, homicide, assault or robbery was 50% or more of the incarcerated population in only six states, 12% of the country, including the District of Columbia as shown by data collected by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program.

In the United States, we also face a problem in that minority juveniles are vastly overrepresented across the country among all types of correctional facilities. While 38% of the juvenile population is minorities, according to data collected by the Prison Policy Initiative, from 2015, 69% of the national juvenile residential placement population were minorities. Minorities are more often victims of sexual assault. In 2012, 64% of juveniles who reported being sexually victimized by either staff or other juveniles were minorities according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Program. The problem of mistreatment of minority juveniles does not stop in the courtroom, but is perpetuated in juvenile facilities of all kinds.

There are two great disparities in the structure of social services and the justice system in the United States when it comes to racial and ethnic inequalities. The first is that minority juveniles have decreased access to high quality public education and support networks which have both been proven to play a large role in keeping juveniles out of prison. The second is that the criminal justice system continues to convict and sentence minorities at the harshest rate. In order to create a more just justice system, work must be done in communities across America to ensure that all children have equal access to the educational and social systems which will give them tools to reach success.

Emma Widra recently wrote an article entitled “Incarceration Shortens Life Expectancy” in which she explains that every year spent incarcerated decreases life expectancy by two years. Nationally, our country’s life expectancy has fallen five years due to the sheer size of the population of incarcerated adults in America. If we continue to put juveniles behind bars, we are continuing to devalue the lives of each individual while also negatively affecting the health of the American population as a whole.

While in many ways, it seems unimaginable to treat juveniles as anything but kids who are growing up and making mistakes, people across the country hold on to the criminal justice system as the answer to public safety and punishment. In many ways, it is easier to lock people up without second thought than it is so invest emotion, passion and time into mentoring, educating, supporting and protecting juveniles who have made mistakes. This is the reason that we spend more on the incarceration of juveniles per individual in many states across the country than we do on the education of minors. For some people, states and systems, there is no way to abolish detention centers and prisons. Many people fail to put themselves in the shoes of those imprisoned, cannot comprehend the pain that life without parole brings and believe that some people truly are “bad.” If politics get in the way,

If we can’t find a way to put an end to juvenile imprisonment as a whole, we should at least work towards what is called “the Missouri Method” in juvenile residential centers across the country. Of the state’s 32 residential facilities, only three of them have more than 33 beds according to a report called “The Costs of Confinement” done by The Justice Policy Institute. The recidivism rate is around 8.7 percent which proves that the low juvenile to employee ratio, high educational standards and intentionally low-population system is not only effective but perhaps even beneficial for juveniles and their communities. Even more impressive is the way in which the Missouri Department of Youth Services has configured their finances. According to Youth First, the state spends about $89,170 per juvenile per year, only 9.7 times more than it spends per student per year in the public school system. $89,170 is not an insignificant number, but in the context of the country as a whole, it is among the lowest.

The United States criminal justice system can no longer operate as the catch-all for kids have made mistakes within the legal realm. Anybody who spends time with teenagers knows how hard it is to create a balance between tough and understanding, but can also knows how necessary it is to support teenagers as they grow up. While the American public education system is constantly working to improve the academic and social lives of teens, it is clear that the same is not being done by the criminal justice system. In order to continue to grow and improve as a country, we have to start with the way we treat those at the bottom of the social, economic or racial hierarchy which is so deeply, and unfortunately, engrained in our country.


Adultification of Black Babes

Are Black Children Forced to Grow Up Faster Than White Children

YES Black kids are forced to grow up quicker than their white counterparts- that is, they are seen as adults much sooner than white children. Most societies afford children special qualities and privileges, innocence being chief among them-this is a privilege not extended to  black kids, This may sound absurd, after all, children are children and everyone ages at the same rate- no one is 18 until they’re 18. However society has forced black children into adulthood well before their time.

According to research published by the American Psychological Association, black boys are perceived as older and inherently less innocent than their white counterparts. This has huge and sometimes violent and deadly ramifications, when police show this same bias. In the study 264 mostly white female undergraduates rated the innocence of people- infants to 25 years old. When the kids were nine years or younger, no matter the race, the level of perceived innocence was the same. However when kids were 10 years old, the average age of black boys was overestimated by four and-a-half years (Phillip Atiba Goff PhD). They also were rated as less innocent. The reason that seeing kids as older than they are is harmful is that, society understands that adults can be held more responsible for their actions and that kids may not understand the extent of what they’re doing, or may not have been able to control themselves. When this same courtesy is not extended to black children, they are left looking more responsible. The special brand of understanding and compassion reserved for kids that doesn’t go to them, leaving  them vulnerable in the worst possible ways.      

The adultification of black children is also evident in the justice system by the amount of black children tried as adults. According to WNYC |New York Public Radio, about 68% of all the minors prosecuted in the state of New Jersey had their prosecutor request to try them as adults (Sarah Gonzales ).

Outside of black children being tried as adults, even when tried as the children they are, they are given harsher and longer sentences than their age mates of different races. They are also disciplined more harshly in school settings. Even in preschool, children aged around four year old, black kids, although they make up only 18% of the preschool population, make up nearly 50% of out of school suspensions(NPR). This again shows that even at tender preschool ages, black kids are somehow more responsible for their actions. That every infraction, no matter the size, committed by a black child had malicious intent behind it.

By not being afforded the luxury of innocence, black children are having their childhood effectively taken from them.  

 

Works Cited

“Black Girls Viewed As Less Innocent Than White Girls, Georgetown Law Research Finds.” Black Girls Viewed As Less Innocent Than White Girls, Georgetown Law Research Finds – Georgetown Law, https://www.law.georgetown.edu/news/press-releases/Black-Girls-Viewed-As-Less-Innocent-Than-White-Girls-Georgetown-Law-Research-Finds.cfm

 

“Kids in Prison: Getting Tried as An Adult Depends on Skin Color.” WNYC, www.wnyc.org/story/black-kids-more-likely-be-tried-adults-cant-be-explained/.

http://www.wnyc.org/story/black-kids-more-likely-be-tried-adults-cant-be-explained/

 

American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/03/black-boys-older.aspx.

http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/03/black-boys-older.as

 

“Racial Inequality in Youth Sentencing.” Working to end the practice of sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole, fairsentencingofyouth.org/the-issue/advocacy-resource-bank/racial-inequality-in-youth-sentencing/.

http://fairsentencingofyouth.org/the-issue/advocacy-resource-bank/racial-inequality-in-youth-sentencing/

 

“Black Preschoolers Far More Likely To Be Suspended.” NPR, NPR, 21 Mar. 2014, www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/03/21/292456211/black-preschoolers-far-more-likely-to-be-suspended.


Why is there such a high incarceration rate?

In many states in the US, cannabis is beginning to be legalized recreationally. In other states, only medical cannabis is legal; and in Utah, only the consumption of CBD is legal. If you get caught with cannabis, you can be charged with a felony. This also ties into why we are leading the world in the highest number of incarcerations; the War on Drugs has imprisoned many people, and decimated minority communities.

I would like to know 2 major things.1) Why do officials, with the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence on both recreational and medicinal cannabis, still refuse to legalize and tax it? And, 2) why do officials choose to turn a blind eye to the obscene amount of people that are imprisoned for very minor charges, for both cannabis and non-cannabis related “crimes”? So, I guess with more critical analysis, the real question is not, “Should cannabis be legal,” but rather it should be: “Does the massive incarceration rate have anything to do with the laws on cannabis?”

In my research, I have found information based on the amount of arrests made solely based on possession on a small amount of cannabis. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says that: “Of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010, 88% were for simply having marijuana. Nationwide, the arrest data revealed one consistent trend: significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.” In the wake of reading these statistics, the question runs even deeper; is the incarceration rate high due to racist law enforcement, simply using the excuse of marijuana to make arrests? “In Iowa, D.C., Illinois, and Minnesota, blacks were 7.5 to 8.5 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possessing cannabis” (Slide 5.) Based on this data alone, along with other sources, we see that there is an overwhelming number of incarcerations based on marijuana possession. In fact, in the NY Times (linked in “sources,”) we see that arrests made for the possession of cannabis are made more often than the arrests for violent crime. Thus, this answers my question. What is contributing to such a high incarceration rate? The rate at which people are getting arrested for possession of cannabis, is in fact, contributing to this.


Prison Labor Protest, a Fight for Humanity

“‘It’s just dressed up slavery’: America’s shadow workforce rises up against prison labor” written by Carimah Townes who is a justice reporter on Think Process has a lot to say in her article. She has also written on other issues like abuse of cops and current problems in politics. In this article it also connect to similar statements made by CNN in “Why US inmates launched a nationwide strike.” like the cheap labor, protesting and abuse of prisoners (letting us know it is a reliable source).

Townes argues, “Regardless of the hard work they do during their sentences, there’s no guarantee that work will translate to a job with livable wages upon their return to society. What is certain, though, is that the corrections system will make money off of them.” The owners of the prisons are somewhat saying that they help prisoners by providing the experience. Yet Townes says that there is no way of really knowing if one will get the job. and supports her claim by stating that, “60 percent of the people who leave prison remain unemployed during the first year of their release” and also “close to 90 percent of employers take criminal records into consideration before hiring.” How will prisoners get jobs if they are not give real experiences? How can they get ahead of it if they leave prison with the couple of bucks they earned with $0.12 an hour ($0.40 being the most in that prison)?

CNN also expresses similar concerns, and points out a specific peaceful protest. “After inmates initially dispersed in a peaceful manner, Bates said prison guards stormed the jail with long guns, tear gas and pepper spray. They removed about 200 protesters before proceeding to tie them up with zip ties and shook down their bunks. Inmates also set at least one fire and vandalized the facility, a police union told the Detroit Free Press.” This shows the abuse prisoners receive. They risked getting solitary confinement, longer sentences, and privileges of seeing their families to get rights.

https://via.hypothes.is/https://thinkprogress.org/its-just-dressed-up-slavery-america-s-shadow-workforce-rises-up-against-prison-labor-e8ee1b5a8738

https://www.youthvoices.live/category/civic-engagement/incarceration/